Review of Ancell’s Quest by Tony Main #Brainfluffbookreview #Ancell’sQuestreview


I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

To his dismay, Ancell, a timid, dreaming hedgehog, is called to sail in search of someone in terrible trouble, who keeps calling to him in his dreams. Someone whose plight cannot wait – which leads him to the capable sea otter captain of the schooner, Misty Dawn – and a whole series of adventures. At first the frightened landlubber finds life upon the waves difficult, but he soon learns to trust the crew and face the various dangers alongside them…

I was a bit dubious initially, as there was very little preparation to this adventure – one minute we are told that Ancell is plagued by nightmares and the next, we are aboard Misty Dawn and getting to know the crew. It meant that I was bonding with the protagonist whilst in the middle of the adventures – however, despite the uneven pacing and faltering start, as soon as Ancell stepped onto the schooner, the story took off.

It’s apparent that Main has sailing experience as he writes with verve and confidence about life aboard the ship. I found I not only bonded with Ancell, but grew fond of the rest of the crew and enjoyed the humour that their bickering personalities generated. This is an ideal book for children, with lots of action – and consequences. I liked the fact that it didn’t all go smoothly and that one of the main characters suffers a major accident. By the time we hit the halfway stage, I was able to suspend my disbelief about how the adventure started in the first place as the eventful voyage and the interplay between the characters completely beguiled me.

There are plenty of setbacks and once the intrepid voyagers arrived in Australia, I was expecting the rest of the adventure to go like clockwork – but no, the stakes continued to rise and the tension grew. The pirate Laughing Jack and his evil sidekick (I was delighted it was a woman) were very unpleasant and had imprisoned a number of children – it wasn’t made clear what their intended fates were, but it clearly was nothing good. One of my favourite characters has to be Hector, the salt-water crocodile – whose intervention in the story created havoc.

Overall, this is a delightful tale that makes excellent bedtime reading for children – and their parents who probably, like me, stayed up just a bit later with the light on to discover how it all ends.

22 responses »

      • Perfect – she’s 8. We’re currently reading jungle book which I am ashamed to say I’ve never read.

      • Oh, I LOVED Jungle Book:)). I didn’t read it to Frankie as she had big issues with books where parents went missing, but it was a big favourite with me… She is the right age for Ancell’s Quest, I’d say.

  1. My youngest is obsessed with hedgehogs! Thanks for telling Emma the age range- I was wondering the same thing. Mine might be a bit young, but it might have to go on our ‘for later’ reading shelves (which are already stacked 3 deep- ugh!) Thanks for the review 🙂

    • It’s far better to have shelves three-deep for children than a smattering of books that may or may not take their fancy in my experience:)). Have you read Beaver Towers with your youngest? It’s a lovely 4-book fantasy series, Frankie and Oscar loved when they were 6…

      • No, I hadn’t heard of it! …doesn’t look like our library has either. Sigh. The description online sounds fantastic, though. I’ll keep an eye out.

      • It’s been around for a while – you may be able to pick up a second-hand copy of it. Frankie read it at school – which is when I got to hear about it.

  2. Emma asked my question! 🙂 I’m always on the lookout for some good fantasy for Blondie. I know, I know, I shouldn’t shove my interests into her face, but I do think she needs a break from reading biology texts. 🙂

    • Has she read the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ series by Cressida Cowell? It’s a firm family favourite – and with good reason. And don’t judge the anarchic, funny and very adventurous books against the tame film versions…

      • Ha! Yes, we did the first one, but then Blondie wandered into other books. I was thinking of plucking up the next few from the library–I think I shall!

      • Do have a look at the next few… they go on delivering plenty of thrills and spills:). Ancell’s Quest is fun with plenty going on if Blondie likes animal protagonists. And I also recommend the Beaver Towers quartet by Nigel Hinton, which are excellent.

  3. Even though I’m not the target of such books, it’s always delightful to read how they affected you or your grandchildren. It makes me think about the early reading experience being formative – and the more great books we’re expose to, the harder the reading bug bites us… 😉

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